Welcome friends to Rebecca’s Real Food & More…the home of tantalizing recipes that will revitalize your life, replenish your body and restore your health. Join me on my quest toward health by embracing one of life’s greatest gifts – real food. As one of my favorite chefs Alice Waters once said, “Health is the outcome of eating well”, and eating well in good health is what I trust you will be lead to do by following my adventure here at Rebecca’s Real Food & More…
I am a person of multiple interests (sometimes it seems like far too many!) with a strong creative drive. Growing up with musical and artistic parents when I was unable to carry a tune and had no knack for drawing or painting, I was left struggling to find my creative voice. I excelled at sewing and made most of my clothes, beading and silver work were fun, but cooking and baking really hit the spot. Smells, colors, textures, and especially tastes were exciting and I had a real talent for putting them together.
Even though Julia Child was making a mark for herself, women in the culinary field were few at the time I went to college so I didn’t even consider pursuing a career in the field. I focused on a business and marketing degree but got a little sidetracked by the draw of restaurant management. It wasn’t until several years later that I decided it was time for the culinary degree and off I went to New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Vermont. After six months at NECI I was off to the Napa Valley for my first internship at the luxury spa/hotel/restaurant Auberge du Soleil. Back to school for another six months where I was encouraged to change my plans for San Francisco and go to France. My chef advisor sent me to the Languedoc region of France for six more months of a “stage” in Florensac at a lovely countryside inn, Hotel Leonce. It was a life changing experience and one that I will always treasure. I swear they have the best lamb I’ve ever eaten, but if I never see snails or squid again I will be a happy person!
My education and internships complete I set off to San Francisco to join Star’s Café, the café version of Jeremiah Tower’s famous Star’s restaurant. What an exciting adventure going from a small café with a small staff and open kitchen to opening a new and much larger restaurant which allowed me to move up to the Sous Chef position. Several years of great food, incredible experiences and having the opportunity to create a daily menu from scratch every day. Everything was fresh, handled properly, sourced from local farmers with a cutting edge menu. The experience at Stars Café prepared me for my current flexibility in the kitchen.
Looking for an opportunity to run the show, I sought out an Executive Chef position and found a home at La Scene Café in the Warwick Regis Hotel. But almost immediately, my high school sweetheart, Don, reached out from Southern California sweeping me off my feet and luring me back to my hometown. In six months I was back home, married, a stepmother of a five-year old happily knowing that my restaurant experience was a thing of my past.
That is not entirely true. My husband loved that he had his own private chef, but I needed more so I started a business called “The Eclectic Chef”. I was a personal chef cooking for people in their homes, giving cooking classes in multiple venues and catering parties. It was so much fun sharing my knowledge and experience with people and watching them “get it”, mastering the skills to cook for themselves.
My husband was practically born into the restaurant business because his father ran and later owned several coffee shops. He washed pots when he was small enough to get into them. His father taught him many kitchen skills but unlike me, he wasn’t fond of being in the kitchen. However, he is very fond of entertaining just as I am. We have opened our home for more gatherings than I can even remember. There are party goers and there are party givers and we are clearly the party givers. Any excuse for an event where family and/or friends come together over food is always welcomed.
My Other Interests
Cooking and gardening have a tendency to go together. Living in Southern California, gardening is a favorite past time and we’ve had the space and desire to do it. In our first home together my husband built raised beds for flowers and vegetables. We added stone fruit and citrus trees. My herb garden thrived with multiple varieties of thyme, tarragon, Italian parsley, marjoram, oregano, chives, mint, lemon balm and in the summer, tons of basil also in multiple varieties. Rosemary, lavender, and lemon verbena were also in abundance. My husband Don and I dug a large pond filling it with fancy goldfish surrounded by a lovely bog. He and my father built a beautiful deck to surround it. In the summer we had fruit, a plethora of heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, peppers, tomatillos, jalapeno chilies, beans and more. We even tried growing corn and melons…delicious.
In our new “older” home the configuration is very different but we have managed to find space to create beds for both flowers and vegetables. With the severe drought, we will eventually remove the grass from part of the front yard and build more raised beds, add in fruit trees and create an herb garden that isn’t solely in pots. Bottom line, we love freshly grown produce. The other day I picked multi-colored carrots, multi-colored green beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and various summer squash varieties. The melons are coming along well and for the first time we have space for pumpkins. They will be just right for the fall season. The tomatillos are slowing doing their thing and getting enormous. They will provide quite a tasty sauce when they are ripe. I was also tempted by the website photo of the beautiful purple Molokai sweet potatoes so I planted three. I’ve never grown them but am hoping for a nice crop. What summer would be complete without basil pesto! Last winter I lost my entire stock of basil pesto which was stored in a freezer that took a nose dive, so I can’t wait until the basil is ready to be harvested. Produce from the garden goes right into our meals and sometimes into food gifts for our friends.
Gardening and entertaining are top on my list but as I said earlier, I have many interests. On my white board right now are the list of projects that I already have the parts and pieces for: sewing new patchwork office curtains out of bold exciting colors; finalizing and designing our Christmas gift project; taking an online drawing class from one of my favorite artists Jane Davenport; designing more decoupaged bird houses; taking another online class about advancing skills for my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine; creating some aromatherapy products; decoupaging gourds; making more earrings and necklaces; painting a new hutch; and mastering my dehydrator. As this list comes to fruition, so will the “And More…” on this site. What isn’t on the list is finalizing the plans for our chicken coop.
When the four of us (Don, Roxy the dog and Boomer the cat) moved in to this house two years ago we came without our chickens. We now live on the edge of a creek with open fields out our back yard. There wasn’t space available to put a chicken pen at the time and we were concerned about the wild life. The wildlife is very close…we see coyotes and have seen the local bobcat across the creek. The ground is now cleared of trees for chickens, but the old stubborn tree stump has to go. A dear friend gave us her lovely coop and we are going to incorporate that into the new enclosure. If things go as we’d like there will be a new crop of chicks next spring and organic eggs several months later. There is nothing like raising the adorable chicks, having the adults roam the yard seeking out bugs and later partaking in their incredible eggs!! Pure heaven!
As I regain my health I am also regaining my energy and desire to accomplish the tasks I’ve set before myself. Come with me and explore new recipes and other creative endeavors as we all expand our horizons and discover new ways to enjoy life!